When Daytona collapsed at the end of the first half of the Florida State League season, all Nick Travieso could do was watch.
The Reds' No. 6 prospect, was on the disabled list as his team lost eight in a row and squandered a five-game lead in the North Division. As the Tortugas (64-49) make another playoff push in the second half, Travieso is healthy and contributing. On Tuesday night, he pitched five hitless innings in an 8-0 blanking of Dunedin.
"It was rough for me being on the bench, not being able to help every fifth day," Travieso said. "But I have all the confidence in the world in my teammates. We've come back and been really strong. And it's great to be out there helping my team."
On a strict pitch count, Travieso was pulled after recording four strikeouts and issuing two walks. He induced seven ground-ball outs.
"I felt like my fastball command was a lot better than it has been. I threw the ball down in the zone and let my defense do its job," he said.
In the fourth, Dunedin's Matt Dean reached on an error and took second on a wild pitch with nobody out. Travieso, realizing he was approaching his pitch limit, stuck to his plan of pounding the bottom of the strike zone and trusted his catcher, Reds No. 27 prospect Chad Wallach. He got a ground ball and two strikeouts to end the threat.
Tuesday was Travieso's second start since coming off the disabled list after getting hit by a line drive on June 15. In his first bullpen session after the incident, he threw behind an L-screen to get used to the reaction time of the ball off the bat. But he said he doesn't think about it anymore.
Third baseman Taylor Sparks, Cincinnati's 23rd-ranked prospect, broke out of a slump with three hits and a career-high five RBIs. He staked Travieso to a quick lead with a two-run double in the first
"He's been swinging it well," Travieso said. "He's seeing the ball really well right now, hitting fastballs and off-speed pitches.
"As much as pitchers say it doesn't matter, going out there with a lead gives you more of a comfort zone so you can throw strikes. Plus, we have one of best defenses in league. I throw it over the zone and let them work."
Sparks capped a four-run fifth with a two-run homer, his 10th, and Travieso retired the side in order in the bottom half to end his night. He said he threw mostly fastballs but, due to his familiarity with the Blue Jays, mixed in his slider and changeup to keep them off-balance. It wasn't until reliever Seth Varner gave up a leadoff single to Mitch Nay in the seventh that the 2012 first-round pick realized he hadn't allowed a hit.
"I'm not a scoreboard-looker. Seth came out after the eighth and told me, 'I'm sorry for giving up the no-hitter.' All I knew was that I was throwing well," Travieso said.
The Florida native, who impressed in a Spring Training appearance with the big league club, said he's focused on the success of the Tortugas, who remained a half-game ahead of second-place Clearwater.
"Since day one, the Reds told me they have a plan for me. There's no need to press about moving out of here," he said. "As long as I'm throwing over the plate and getting my work in, it doesn't matter what level I'm at."
Andrew Kahn is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKahnn.